Sunday 29th July
There was an after-shock this morning while having breakfast. Kuroseki is on latitude 40 degrees north. Departed auto-camp at about 9:00am and it’s already hotter than is comfortable. Funny how you want what you don’t have – cool when hot, warm when cold.
Nice start to the day along the deserted Rikuchu Kaigan Seaside Line (Prefecture Road 44) as it continues south and keeping to a higher elevation until arriving at the top of a steep 10% descent.
On the way up the next hill pass the turn off to the scenic Kitayamazaki Cliffs.
It is easy to see why Kitayamazaki Cliffs are called the “Alps of the Sea”. They are considered by many as the most beautiful coastal scenery in Japan, rising 200 metres and stretching 8kms along the coast.
Looking down on a destroyed sea wall, it is already becoming difficult to appreciate the scale of damage caused by the tsunami. A parked car (upper left corner in photo below) helps to give a perspective.
Arrive at the village of Tanohata, with the large beachfront Hotel Ragaso. Here the tsunami reached the hotel’s 4th floor, note the tide mark on hotel wall. It is the only building still standing adjacent to the beach, the first houses are several hundred meters inland.
Continue on to the next village of Shimanokoshi where only two buildings remain.
Pass what seems to be a volunteer centre but don’t stop.
A little way inland and on the way back to Route 45 discover a shop in the hamlet of Kiriushi. I disturb the elderly owners having their lunch. The lady comes over but stops me buying my first choice, it has passed its use by date. She pulls out a chair for me to sit on while I eat, she goes back to her lunch.
Refueled I continue, rejoin Route 45 at Oashi. Soon afterwards Route 45 divides in to a car only road and another for everyone else. I take the latter, soon afterwhich two large bridges appear across a spectacular deep gorge.
Pass another side road to more spectacular cliffs of U no Su (or cormorant cliff).
Lots of ups and downs before a steep descent to Omoto. Stop for a rest and bite to eat at the convenience there.
Continue on to Settai, at the JR Station meet Mineko and Hiro-san, two members of the local growers’ co-operative. Members of the co-op has been selling produce here for about 20 years. Mineko offers me some plums but it is too many, and too heavy to carry. We compromise, I take about half. Many thanks Mineko, if you read this!
Before leaving I go for supplies to the village shop she mentioned. When I enter the lady shop keeper asks if I am from New Zealand, making me think Mineko must have phoned her to say I was coming. She then points to the NZ flag on my sign, picks up a rugby ball from behind the counter and says: “All Blacks”! She’s a fan!
Was warned that Tarō Road Station is up a steep hill but I find the climb isn’t too bad. Mineko will be there to sell her produce tomorrow so we might meet again if I leave late.
Tarō Road Station has a large resting area, with tatami platform and a TV as well as the usually road station info. I like it! The fast food kiosk is good too. Watch the Olympics before going to sleep.
It is so quiet and clean. It’s unlikely a facility like this being treated with such respect in English-speaking countries like NZ or Australia. I wonder why?
It was an eventful day but did not go very far – only about 50km!